Truman, the Appeaser
July 30, 1951 — The Freeman

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project
| July 31, 2013       

An excerpt from the libertarian publication The Freeman, based in New York city and co-edited by famed journalist/economist Henry Hazlitt (1894-1933), a staunch defender of the free market system.

Though uncredited, this fact-starved, heavily biased piece was written by Hazlitt. It’s actually a slightly different, shorter version of his column Iran vs. Point Four that ran in Newsweek’s business section the very same day.


Some years ago the government of Iran, of its own free will and without any evidence of coercion, made a long-term contract with Britain’s Anglo-Iranian Oil Company that still has many years to run. A few months ago the Iranian government became dissatisfied with the terms of this contract, repudiated it, and seized the properties of the company. This included not only underground oil rights which the government had already sold for a consideration, but the refinery and other investments in equipment, estimated to have a total value of about $840,000,000. In the bad old days of the nineteenth century Britain would have sent in troops to protect the lives and property of its citizens, but this is now universally condemned as “imperialism.” So the British government, after much vacillation, did the currently approved thing, and put its case before the International Court of Justice at the Hague. It got a provisional verdict in favor of the pre-seizure status quo. Whereupon Iran’s spokesmen denounced the Court, and flouted its decision.

Here is a loss to the Atlantic Pact Nations of the world’s largest refinery and of a vital source of crude oil. Worse, it now seems highly probable that, in one way or another, these oil resources will fall into Stalin’s control within a year. Now the part that our own government played in this huge easy victory for Stalin is very instructive. It intervened, not to offer its unequivocal support to the British government’s position, but to urge soft measures and appeasement. And after the irresponsible Mossadegh had insultingly rejected the Hague Court decision, President Truman sent him a remarkable message. It said: “you know of our sympathetic interest in this country in Iran’s desire to control its natural resources. From this point of view we were happy to see that the British government has on its part accepted the principle of nationalization.”

Mr. Truman, in brief, told an irresponsible foreign government that the American people sympathize with the violation of contracts, with the seizure of private property, and with the socialization of the oil industry. He said, in an official message, that the American people were happy to see the principle of nationalization accepted. He said, in other words, that the American people sympathize with the central principle of socialism. In their names he repudiated private enterprise. Mr. Truman was not satisfied with mere words. Through the Export-Import Bank he offered the Iranian government $25,000,000 of the American taxpayers’ money to reward its thefts and to finance its socialist planning. If we want to know why time is not on our side in the struggle with Russia and with socialist-communist ideology, we need merely look at this sample record.

Related links:

Mossadegh Fights For Oil in Name of Iranian PoorU.S. News & World Report, July 6, 1951

Extremism Solves No Problems — U.S. editorial, September 13, 1951

British To Stay in Iran, Produce Nationalized Oil, Washington Hopes — June 21, 1951

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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